According to a survey, one in every five fur parents became cat owners because a stray cat chose to “adopt” them.
This might lead you to question – do stray cats choose their owners?
Cats, as we all know, are solitary animals. They come and go as they please. At some point, a stray might approach a random stranger to ask for food. But to earn their trust and love is an entirely different story.
So, do stray cats have the final say when it comes to choosing their human friends? We might have the answers for you, so read on!
Why do stray cats like certain people?
Cats have earned a reputation for being solitary hunters. In the wild, they do not need to belong to a pack to survive. They rely on their resourcefulness to find food and a safe shelter away from larger predators, meaning they can fend for themselves without the need for humans.
There has also been a lot of speculation about cats being cold, selfish, and even a little snobbish toward their owners, but this could not be further from the truth. Yes, these fur-balls appear to be independent and have sophisticated body language that many find quite difficult to understand. But cats, just like their canine counterparts, long for human companionship too. In fact, cats were domesticated thousands of years ago to work alongside humans.
Generally, cats look at their humans like “big cats.” That is why they rub their cheeks and bodies against your legs, just as they would with their feline peers. However, unlike dogs, it is believed that cats do not recognize their humans as superiors or masters. Still, that does not mean they cannot develop a deep emotional connection with their owners. It is just that cats might have their own way of seeing this that is quite different from humans’.
But, just as we choose people to be our friends, cats, too, can choose their perfect human companions. Depending on the cat’s personality, they might like a certain person for being outgoing, generous, friendly, or soft-hearted. Some cats with extroverted traits might choose a human companion who displays the same type of personality. A study also reveals that cats are usually more comfortable with women rather than men, because female owners tend to spend more time with their pets.
Hence, for many cat owners, being “adopted” by a stray cat is an honor. With millions of homeless cats in the United States, there is a high chance that you will have a close encounter with a stray cat. So, perhaps the next question should be, what would you do if a stray cat chooses you?
Do stray cats choose their owners?
Yes, most stray cats choose their human companions. Often, these cats might come and go between different homes, asking for food and temporary shelter. And then, somewhere along the way, these homeless kitties might eventually find their purr-fect human companion – someone that will make them feel safe and loved.
Depending on the situation, there are several possible ways that a stray cat might find their special person:
1. Cat waits on your doorstep
A lot of cat parents met their fur babies on their doorstep. This is a classic way for stray cats to ask for food or seek warm shelter to survive cold nights. Sometimes, an interesting scent, toy, or sound could trigger the feline’s curiosity, leading them to your door. Thus, many cat owners tell of how their would-be cat appeared all of a sudden outside their doors, as if they had been waiting there the entire time.
2. Cat appears at life’s darkest moment
Perhaps you have heard heart-warming stories of people who were at the lowest point of their lives, but then suddenly everything changed after they opened their homes to a furry friend. Many believe that cats come into our lives with a purpose. Sometimes, they are like special angels sent from heaven, coming into the world with a great mission – and that is to make us, humans, overcome sadness or loneliness and feel better about ourselves.
It does not matter if they are big or small, long-haired or short-haired, ginger or black, mixed breed or pedigreed. If it means coming home every day to a furry friend ready to give their unconditional love, then opening our hearts to help a homeless cat is worthwhile.
3. Cat regularly visits your backyard
Sometimes, you might wake up in the morning to find a random cat curled up on your front porch, making themselves completely at home.
Most people cannot help but think that the cat has somehow chosen them, especially if they visit the backyard on a regular basis. And for most cat lovers, providing the cat with a comfy bed and warm meal is a matter of honor. And then, the more you feed the cat, the more it will return, until it ends up staying.
How cats choose their owners
Cats are unpredictable creatures. So how do they choose their human owners? Are there any rules that cats follow when choosing a human companion?
For most stray cats, lots of treats and attention are the greatest factors that lead them to their would-be parents. Some cats who crave safety and comfort will also choose to stick to a specific person who can fulfill those needs.
But cats do generally play hard to get. Thanks to their standoffishness and independent nature, it is not always easy to earn their love and trust. Perhaps in pursuit of feline validation, many cat parents feel joy and honor when a cat chooses to love and be loved by them.
In summary, a cat might choose its human companion through:
Early human socialization is crucial for a kitten. While adult cats might still build a strong attachment with their human friends, establishing a relationship starting from kittenhood makes a big difference. Kittens are impressionable, making it easier to bond with them.
Communication plays an important role, not just in human relationships, but also in human-to-cat relationships. Our furry friends might not understand our language, but they do sense our body language and our mood. Hence, by promoting positivity in the relationship, your cat can feel safe and at ease by your side. This helps establish trust and deepen the emotional bond between you and your pet.
Each person has a unique personality, and so do our whiskered friends. While several factors, such as the breed and early socialization, can influence a cat’s relationship with humans, we cannot deny that each cat does have its own individual quirks. And, as such, compatibility matters a lot to establishing a successful human-cat relationship. Some cats might be more reserved but show aggression toward a particular person, while others are carefree and laid-back.
Hence, understanding the cat’s behavior and preferences is important to ensure a peaceful coexistence in the household. With all this being said, it should be no surprise that some cats are more attached to a specific individual.
What to do when a stray cat comes to your home
So, you found a homeless kitty on your doorstep and decided to help. But, before you welcome a stray cat into your home, there are a few things you must do to ensure that both the newcomer and your household pets, if any, feel safe.
1. Provide basic care
If the cat seems friendly and approachable, the first thing you can do is provide it with the basic necessities, such as food, water, and a warm shelter. You can start by leaving a bowl of food and water outside your home, and let the cat approach on its own terms.
Be careful, though, if the cat looks terrified or aggressive. While it is rare for ferals to beg humans for food and shelter, there might be instances when you encounter one. Keep your distance if you think the cat is not approachable, or you risk being scratched or bitten.
2. Look for its owner
Just because the cat looks dirty and homeless, it does not mean the cat does not have an owner. It is possible that the cat is lost, and that the owners have been trying to track it down for weeks or even months. To be safe, take the stray to the vet to have it scanned for a microchip. If a chip is found, this will help you contact the owner.
If you cannot locate the cat’s owners, or if the cat obviously has no owners, then you can decide to adopt and welcome this new furry friend into your home. Just make sure, though, that you can provide your newfound friend with the basics – you do need to do some research before adopting a cat.
Otherwise, know that you are not obliged to care for the cat if you think you cannot provide a safe and happy home for it. For sure, there will be other cat lovers out there who would be willing to open their homes to a furry companion.
Should you decide to keep the stray cat in your home for good, then your next step would be to have it tested for diseases. You should also arrange with your vet a vaccination and deworming regimen to ensure that your new pet lives a healthy and happy life.
As a responsible fur parent, you may also choose to neuter or spay the cat to reduce the number of stray kittens in the community. Whether you plan to keep your pet completely indoors or allow it out, sterilization is highly recommended regardless, to minimize unwanted behavior and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
So, can we humans choose our cats, or is it actually the other way around?
In the wild, cats rely on their instincts to survive. That means they will probably stick to where they can find a food source and warm shelter. These are the primary reasons a stray cat might approach you.
Cats also choose their humans not just for the resources, but also based on certain circumstances. They can also be quite picky about a human’s personality.
At the end of the day, we cat lovers take great pride in being chosen by our special furry companions. Yet, we still have to give our serious commitment to nurturing the relationship and keeping our newfound friends safe and happy under our roof.
Image: istockphoto.com / M-Production